I’ll never forget the first time I was taken to a "pick your own" fruit farm, picking beautifully ripe strawberries that tasted unlike any others I’d ever eaten before. Every summer I try to source the tastiest strawberries I can, and if I ever pass a "pick your own" I just have to go in. Laden with the best strawberries I can find, I head home with only one thing on my mind… strawberry tart. Serves 10–12

You'll need

  • A 23cm (9 inch) round, 3cm (1¼ inch) deep tin (pan)
  • 1 quantity of sweet shortcrust pastry 
  • 1 quantity of crème pâtissière 
  • Candied pistachios
  • 3 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
  • 100ml (3½fl oz/generous ⅓ cup) water
  • 100g (3½oz) roasted unsalted pistachios, shelled
  • 750g (1lb 10oz) strawberries
  • Chocolate Flowers 

How to make the sweet shortcrust pastry

You'll need

  • 230g (8oz/1¾ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 125g (4½oz/½ cup/1⅛ sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and diced
  • 50g (1¾oz/generous ⅓ cup) icing (powdered) sugar
  • zest of ½ lemon, zest of
  • ¼ orange or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (all optional)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 egg yolk

Method

  1. Place the flour and butter in the bowl of a free-standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and gently beat until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the icing (powdered) sugar and any flavourings, if using, and mix through. Add the egg yolk and the milk and mix until the dough only just comes together (overworking the dough will result in a tough pastry)
  2. As soon as the dough starts to come together, stop the machine, turn out onto a work surface and bring the pastry together with your hands to form a ball. Push down, flattening the dough out to a thickness of about 1cm (½ inch)—this will ease the rolling out process later on. Wrap in clingfilm (plastic wrap) and rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour but preferably longer
  3. Use as directed in the recipe and before placing in the oven apply an egg wash

 

 

To make the tart

  1. Make the pastry as instructed. While the pastry is resting in the fridge, make the crème pâtissière and leave to cool completely. Line, blind bake, chill and trim the pastry case (shell), and leave in the tin (pan)
  2. Lay the pistachios out on a clean tea towel. Fold the towel over and rub the nuts vigorously. This will take off any loose skins, exposing the lovely green flesh beneath. Pick out the nuts and set aside, discarding the skins
  3. To candy the pistachios, add the sugar to a small frying pan (skillet) and add the water. Stir to dissolve the sugar and heat through for 2–3 minutes until you have a syrupy consistency. Add the nuts to the pan and stir around to coat in the sugar syrup. Keep stirring until the sugar crystallizes. It will start to cling to the nuts, going lumpy and turning white. Pour the candied nuts onto non-stick baking paper or a silicone mat and leave to cool. Crush them to a fine crumb, using a rolling pin or similar
  4. Wash and prepare the strawberries, checking each berry as you do so. If any are bruised set aside for another use. Slice off the leaves being careful not to take too much of the flesh. Group the strawberries together in size order. Quarter each strawberry vertically, keeping them in the sized groups
  5. Give the crème pâtissière a good whisking so it is smooth and spoonable. Fill the pastry shell almost to the top, smoothing the surface with the back of a spoon. Place a little of the remaining crème pâtissière into a disposable piping (pastry) bag, and store any leftover in the fridge
  6. Start to assemble the strawberry quarters around the tart, starting on the outside and using the larger quarters first. Lay each quarter side by side, cut side up, until you complete the first circle. Repeat until you have covered the surface of the crème pâtissière, keeping similar-sized strawberry quarters next to each other. Pipe a little of the crème pâtissière around the edge of the tart and top with some of the crushed pistachios. Spoon a little of the crushed nuts in and around the tart too, then pipe some dots of crème pâtissière around the tart to create a contrast in colour. Finish with some chocolate decorations, such as flowers and butterflies 

 

This recipe is taken from Soulful Baker by Julie Jones, images by Lisa Linder. Published by Jacqui Small, out 21st September

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